Saturday, April 29, 2017

BSO — 2017/04/29

This week's concert was definitely okay, and I'll listen to the broadcast this evening; but I'm not at all tempted to get a ticket and go back and hear it again in the hall on Tuesday. Here is how the orchestra's program detail page describes it (with a notable omission):
Continuing Andris Nelsons' and the BSO's traversal of the complete Shostakovich symphonies is the composer's Symphony No. 6, composed on the eve of World War II and following on the unmitigated success of his Symphony No. 5. Although overshadowed by the Fifth and Seventh (Leningrad), the Sixth is unmistakably Shostakovich in its sardonic humor and melancholy slow movement. The superb German violinist Anne-Sophie Mutter opens the concert with Tchaikovsky's evergreen Violin Concerto, among the most popular works in the repertoire. Known for her exploration of contemporary repertoire, Ms. Mutter also performs Japanese composer Toru Takemitsu's 1987 homage to the phenomenal Russian film director Andrei Tarkovsky [Nostalghia (In Memory of Andrej Tarkovskij)]. Takemitsu, himself a celebrated film composer, titled this atmospheric piece for violin and strings after one of Tarkovsky's late masterpieces.
(Most emphasis added.)

The omission is that the blurb fails to mention the Shostakovich Festive Overture, which opens the program. I guess the curtain raiser was an afterthought. It is, however, listed at the bottom of the page as part of the program. The page contains the usual links to podcast, performer bios, program notes, and audio previews.

The generally favorable reviews in the Globe and the Boston Musical Intelligencer, although differing on certain points, at least give a good idea of the music itself.Overall, though, I just didn't enjoy most of it. The opening Festive Overture was fun — nothing too serious, just loud, lively, and cheerful. In the Tchaikovsky, I found Ms. Mutter's tone harsh much of the time, especially on the lower strings, except in the second movement. The familiar sections often seemed strangely played, and the surrounding parts didn't seem related to them. I think the BMInt reviewer had the same feeling.

After intermission, the Takemitsu piece was better than I expected. I think of his music as unpleasant, but "Nostalghia" was calm and almost beautiful. But to me it was also dull and overlong. The first movement of the Shostakovich was also dull and overlong. The rest was livelier. Some of, as suggested by the program note sounded like "Rossini meets Prokofiev." So, while it had its moments, overall it was a disappointment.

As I said at the beginning, I will be listening to this evening's performance over WCRB at 8:00 Boston Time (EDT) and/or the rebroadcast/webstream on Monday, May 8. Maybe it will sound better the second time around. Listen in and see what you think, although I wouldn't blame you for deciding at some point that you've  heard enough and switching to something else. Maybe listening to the station's podcast in advance will make it more enjoyable.

Saturday, April 22, 2017

BSO — 2017/04/22

Mozart is our composer this week. The orchestra's performance detail page gives the essentials (typically not listing the pieces in the order in which they will be played):
Andris Nelsons leads this all-Mozart program featuring four acclaimed vocalists in Mozart's transformative Requiem, which he began in response to a mysterious commission. The work remained incomplete at his death in 1791, but at Constanze Mozart's request, Mozart's pupil Franz Xaver Süssmayer finished it with remarkable fidelity to the master's style. Opening the program, the great Romanian pianist Radu Lupu plays one of Mozart's most unusual piano concertos, No. 24 in C minor. Composed in the spring of 1786 and premiered by the composer in Vienna, the proto-Romantic C minor is unique in its strangeness and restlessness, and features a fascinating theme-and-variations finale.
(Emphasis added.)

See the performance detail page  also for all the usual links to background material.

The reviews in the Globe and BMInt are favorable, if slightly mixed in the Globe's case. Like the reviewers, I found the concerto cleanly performed and, for a piece in minor mode, placid. The Requiem had its loud and forceful moments, which I felt as more earnest than desperate. I'd like to hear it all again, but unfortunately I'll be tied up both this evening and on May 1, when it is to be rebroadcast.

As always, you can hear it on air or on line through WCRB at 8:00 p.m., EST, this evening, with a rerun on May 1, also at 8:00. Check the website for links to other information. Enjoy the concert.

Saturday, April 15, 2017

BSO — 2017/04/15

Although this week's program was part of my subscription, I didn't go because I was attending the Holy Thursday Mass. The BSO program detail page gives the usual links, including this week a video podcast about Bruckner. And here's what they say about the concert:
Japanese pianist Mitsuko Uchida, one of the foremost Mozart pianists of  our age, plays the composer's mysterious, stormy, proto-Romantic D minor piano concerto, a work owing much to the composer's sensitivity to operatic drama and emotion. Bruckner's seldom heard Symphony No. 6, written between 1879 and 1881, was the work he considered his boldest, though only the second and third movements were performed during his lifetime. Gustav Mahler led all four movements-but with cuts-in 1899, in Vienna; the first complete, uncut performance was given in 1901, in Stuttgart. Energetic, lyrical, and expansive, the Symphony No. 6 is a uniquely absorbing example of the composer's monumental symphonic style.
(Some emphasis added.)

Music Director Andris Nelsons will be on the podium.

We have the clash of the reviewers. The Globe found a lot of fault with the way both pieces were performed, whereas the Boston Musical Intelligencer was very pleased.

So, it's up to you to decide for yourself. You can listen this evening on WCRB at 8:00 p.m., Boston Time. I probably won't be home from church in time for the Mozart, and my brother will probably call from Japan while the Bruckner is on, so I'll have to listen to the rerun on April 24 (also at 8:00). As you surely know if you're a regular reader, the 'CRB website has lots of material linked to the home page — including a podcast about this concert and other offerings on the station. You also know that within broadcast range, you can hear them at 99.5 FM, otherwise via webstream.

Saturday, April 8, 2017

BSO/Classical New England — 2017/04/08

This week the orchestra isn't playing in Symphony Hall (or anywhere else that I can see on their website). So WCRB is giving us a rerun of a concert from 15 months ago. Here's the description on their Upcoming BSO Broadcasts page, where you can also see the broadcast/webstream schedule for the rest of the season:
Saturday, April 8
Johannes Moser is the soloist in Dvorák's Cello Concerto, part of an All-Czech program that also includes "The Moldau," from Smetana's My Country, and Martinu's Fantaisies symphoniques (Symphony No. 6), all conducted by Ludovic Morlot, in a concert recorded on January 23, 2016.
Ludovic Morlot, conductor
Johannes Moser, cello
SMETANA “The Moldau” from Ma Vlast
MARTINU Fantaisies symphoniques (Symphony No. 6)
DVORAK Cello Concerto
Of course, I posted about it at the time of the performance. Unfortunately, I neglected to include a link to the review in BMInt. Here it is.

Anyway, this should be worth tuning in or listening on line on Saturday at 8:00 p.m. Boston Time. It doesn't look as if they're planning to play it again on Monday the 17th.

BTW, while I was looking up the BMInt review of this week's rebroadcast, I noticed that there is an extensive, and fascinating to me, discussion about conducting in the comments on the review of last week's concert.

Saturday, April 1, 2017

BSO — 2017/04/01

This week we have a French guest conductor leading an all French concert. See the BSO's performance detail page for the usual links to background information. There, the program is described as follows:
French conductor Alain Altinoglu, making his BSO debut, leads this all-French program and is joined by his countryman, the violinist Renaud Capuçon, for Édouard Lalo's Symphonie espagnole, written for the great Spanish virtuoso Sarasate in 1874 and a brilliant concerto in all but name. Berlioz's Roman Carnival Overture, by turns romantic and exuberant, opens the program. Albert Roussel's Suite No. 2 from his 1930 ballet Bacchus et Ariane was strongly championed with the BSO by Charles Munch. It was also Munch who introduced Henri Dutilleux's music to the orchestra and called for the commission of his atmospheric Symphony No. 2, Le Double, to commemorate the BSO's 75th anniversary.
(Some emphasis added.)

The reviews are favorable. The Globe finds no fault. The Boston Musical Intelligencer, with no space limitations, goes into more detail, but only has a couple of minor faults to find. I didn't go because I seemed to have a bit of a cold, but I'm looking forward to hearing the first half this evening, before my brother calls from Japan, and the rest in the rebroadcast on Monday, April 10.

As always, you can hear it tonight at 8:00 p.m. EST over WCRB on line or on air. And there is the usual rebroadcast at 8:00 p.m. on April 10. Their website has much information about their programming, including this page devoted to the concert, with a link to a podcast.